HARCOURT, John (d. ?1826), of Wall Hall, Kent

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1754-1790, ed. L. Namier, J. Brooke., 1964
Available from Boydell and Brewer



8 Feb. 1785 - 22 Feb. 1786
1790 - 1796
1812 - 1818
15 Feb. 1819 - 1820

Family and Education

m. c.1790, Mary ?Ainslie,1 2s.

Offices Held


Harcourt was described as a banker, and ‘related to the noble family of the same name’2 (a Harcourt was a partner in the banking house of Sansom and Co. of Lombard Street from 1791 to 1801). In 1784 Harcourt unsuccessfully contested Ilchester, where he had ‘purchased nominally’ a ‘considerable property in land’, in opposition to the Lockyer interest. He tried again on a vacancy in February 1785, and ‘having the returning officer he prevailed by a gross and illegal procedure’.3 A petition was lodged against his return; and he protested in the House on 28 Feb. 1785 that the day chosen for the hearing was inconvenient. Fox supported his case; and that order was discharged on the motion of William Eden by 130 votes to 97. He was nevertheless finally unseated.

It was alleged that the real owner of the Ilchester properties was a London attorney, Richard Troward; and from 1785 he and Harcourt were engaged in highly dubious transactions for their sale to Samuel Smith, who had succeeded to the Lockyer interest. Nevertheless in the general election of 1790, Harcourt again secured his return for the borough.

He died at St. Omer, France, in December 1825 or January 1826.4

Ref Volumes: 1754-1790

Author: M. H. Port


  • 1. The two sons, John Johnson and George Simon, used the surname Ainslie until 1816 and 1825 respectively: see East India Register and Army Lists. They and their mother are mentioned in Harcourt’s will.
  • 2. J. Wilson, Biog. Index of House of Commons (1808), pp. 87, 298.
  • 3. Chatham Pprs. Memorandum by Samuel Smith.
  • 4. PCC 157 Sawbey.